The best preserved of the temples around Battambang, Wat Banan can be reached from Battambang by following Street 1 south out of town for 20km until you see some distinctive Angkor Wat-like towers; the temple lies immediately at the top of a steep laterite stairway which ascends a seventy-metre-high hill. Alternatively, you can get here directly from Phnom Sampeu via a narrow dirt road which passes through some delightful countryside.
It’s known that Wat Banan was consecrated as a Buddhist temple, but scholars are uncertain who built the temple or exactly when it was completed – estimates put this between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. Five corn-on-the-cob towers remain, all in a somewhat collapsed state, and several of the carvings have lost their heads to vandals, though there are a few still in reasonable condition. You will likely be accompanied on the climb by young kids who hope for a tip by telling you a bit about the temple. It’s certainly worth the steep clamber up to see the detailed lintels, beheaded apsaras and views out over endless paddies, with Phnom Sampeu clearly visible to the north.